For now, there’s no cause for panic. The strong U.S. economy and low unemployment means most consumers are able to stay current on debt payments — new foreclosures and bankruptcies fell to the lowest level in at least 15 years in 2018. Yet the uptick in card losses is unmistakable. Credit-reporting company Experian Plc said some of the blame goes to banks offering credit to riskier borrowers, and the Federal Reserve has noted a spike in late payments by the elderly.
“We do see card delinquencies a little higher and a slight uptick in the most recent couple of quarters,” Matt Komos, TransUnion’s vice president of research and consulting, said in an interview, adding that he doubts the trend is a harbinger of bad news for banks. “Delinquencies, while moving upward, are probably hitting a more normal level for the amount of credit that’s out there.”